Kiwi Karma lowers Affleck’s boom in round one

Michael Lee
In a thrilling dash to the line in the $250,000 Group 3 Dester Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m), smart filly Kiwi Karma upstaged arch-rival and former stablemate Affleck to land the first Leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge last Friday.

Previously prepared by Laurie Laxon, Kiwi Karma waged many battles with Laxon’s undisputed champion two-year-old last year. Though the score read 2-1 in favour of the latter prior to their latest clash, Kiwi Karma remained the only one to have inflicted Affleck his only defeat in seven runs.
The Fast ‘N’ Famous filly was equal to herself when she repeated the feat on Friday, with the score now tied at 2-2, but without taking anything away from her brilliance, winning trainer Michael Clements himself admitted it might be a different story next time.
Kiwi Karma (Manoel Nunes) holds off Affleck (John Powell) to win Friday’s feature race.

“Affleck was first-up and was not on his right distance and my filly was on the correct one and she had the fitness edge,” said Clements.
“The higher they go, the better Affleck will get, but Kiwi Karma is such a fighter. There is not much of her but she has come back stronger and has such a big heart.
“She was drawn wide today, but she was quick as usual and ran through the field to land in a forward place where she likes to be. Sebas set the pace and she had her stable companion Touch Me Not on her inside.
“I thought she hit the front a bit too early, but Manoel (Nunes) kept her going.”
Indeed, Kiwi Karma ($20) looked like she would be gobbled up when Affleck came upsides at the 300m with jockey John Powell not having flexed a muscle yet. But those who were cheering for the Oscar Racing Stable-owned champion had counted their chicks too early.
Tried as he might, Affleck just could not reel in his former stable companion, who kept finding to reach the wire with three parts of a length to spare. Third was Touch Me Not (Nooresh Juglall), another half-a-length astern. The winning time was 1min 8.81secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.
Clements said both Kiwi Karma and Touch Me Not were on course for the remaining two Legs comprising the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1400m) in two weeks’ time and the Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1600m) on May 15, but is well aware a clean sweep might be a big ask.
“She won over 1400m (Singapore Prestige Classic) at her last run and she should be able to get the mile too,” said Clements.
“But I will still see how she pulls up as last time, the track was a bit hard and it took her a while to get over it. Besides the next Leg is in two weeks’ time (interval cut back by one week as the 3YO Sprint was postponed by one week after the death of former Singapore Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew on March 23).
“But like I said, Affleck will also get better over more ground. I was also happy with Touch Me Not’s run and he is also going for the other two Legs.
“As he is a lazy horse and lacks pace, the longer trips should suit him even better.”
Winning team rejoicing after Kiwi Karma’s triumph in the inaugural Dester Singapore 3YO Sprint: (from left) owner
Dia Banerji, jockey Manoel Nunes and trainer Michael Clements.

Nunes, on the other hand, was a bit more reserved in his assessment about the Dsands Racing Stable’s filly ability to see out the mile.
“I think 1200m is her best distance and I would probably stick to that. When she won over the 1400m, it was more like a Class 4 field and in the second Leg it will be a much stronger field,” said the Brazilian jockey.
“Besides, Affleck is a very good horse and was coming back from a spell. So my filly had the fitness edge on him today.
“During the race, I was happy to be in front of him and she was on top of him, condition-wise, right through.
“I was a bit worried about the Long Course, but she was very brave all the way to the line.”
Laxon was of course disappointed Affleck was unable to score first-up since he trounced his three-year-old rivals in the Group 3 Magic Millions 2014 More Magic 3YO Championship (1600m) last November, but could hardly wait for the rematch.
“He ran well even though he was not race-fit and was a little soft. He was found out in the last bit,” said the New Zealander.
“Kiwi Karma has always been a good filly, but we’ll turn the tables on her over 1400m in two weeks’ time.
“She was the second best two-year-old but she won’t be the best three-year-old.”
While Laxon rattles his sabres for the grudge match, connections of Kiwi Karma will enjoy Friday’s spoils, which have now swollen her win account close to $660,000.

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